Antique Black Americana Photograph Print - A Skin Game - Original Frame
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The original of this famed photograph "A Skin Game" was taken in 1896 by Joseph Knaffl (1861-1938) and his brother Charles. Their photography studio, Knaffl and Bro., was located in Knoxville, Tennessee from 1894 to 1904. To quote from Wikipedia, "During the mid-1890s, the Knaffls made a series of photographs that poked fun at negative racial stereotypes, such as "A Skin Game" (1896), which depicts three African-American card players cheating at poker. Knaffl's photographs were featured in magazines such as The Photographic Review, Photo-era Magazine, Photographic Times.." This original print was made and sold around 1898, the year the Knaffl brothers copyrighted it.
The photographers used the gelatin silver print process, which results in a flat, non-glossy surface. While we had the print out of the frame, we took photos to avoid the glare of the glass cover. Only the ones with the photograph in the frame are without glass and the lack of gloss is obvious. Our photo number 9 shows the original torn back paper and the back of the print showing the yellowed heavy paper it was printed on. The print is in excellent condition with no tears or other damage; the paper is slightly wavy, but is flattened out by the framing process. Our framer backed the print with archival, acid-free materials, including a new dust cover, and installed a hanging wire. The information about the photograph was written on the glass negative plate in white ink; on the lower left, it reads COPYRIGHT 1898 KNAFFL & BRO. KNOXVILLE, TENN. At bottom center is the title, also in white ink: "A SKIN GAME". There is a gambling card game called Skin Game, but in this instance the "skinning" is going on by passing a card from one man to another (with his toes!) under the table.
This is the original frame, made of molded gesso on wood; the decorations are beading, scallops and sprays of flowers. This type of frame was popular for many years after the Civil War, reminiscent of the cases used for tintypes and daguerreotypes, although they are somewhat fragile, since the glued-on pieces are easily broken off. This example is--surprisingly--in very good condition, having just a few tiny chips, but displaying handsomely. It measures 12 inches by 15 inches and one inch wide and the artwork weighs about 2 pounds. It's the perfect frame for this fascinating antique photographic print that's ready to hang.